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Counseling Degrees and Programs in Washington

The colleges and universities in Washington offer many counseling programs across all of the major areas of practice, including mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, rehabilitation counseling, school counseling, and substance abuse counseling. Those who are interested in pursuing counseling careers in Washington will need to choose the right school and program as most professional counseling careers require a college or university degree. Washington schools offer many different types of degrees, from associate to doctoral degrees. Many of these degrees are offered at the master’s level since this is the minimum educational requirement for most types of counseling licensure in the state. Prospective students can choose from traditional, on-campus degrees offered at institutions across the state or one of the many online and hybrid formats that enable students to complete coursework requirements from home.

Quick Facts

  • There are 32 not-for-profit colleges and universities that offer a program in mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, school counseling, substance abuse counseling, and/or vocational rehabilitation counseling in Washington.1,2
  • Of the counseling schools in Washington, 14 offer an associate degree, 2 offer a bachelor’s degree, 13 offer a certificate, and 15 offer a master’s or advanced degree.1,2
  • 14 schools offer a degree in mental health counseling.1,2
  • 8 schools offer a degree in marriage and family therapy.1,2
  • 2 schools offer a degree in vocational rehabilitation counseling.1,2
  • 9 schools offer a degree in school counseling.1,2
  • 21 schools offer a degree in substance abuse counseling.1,2
  • No schools ranked in US News & World Report’s Best Student Counseling Programs 2022.4
  • 2 schools ranked in US News & World Report’s Best Online M.Ed. Programs for Student Counseling 2022.4
  • Across 9 schools, 18 counseling programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).2
  • Across 5 schools, 5 counseling programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).5

Comparison of Washington Counseling Schools and Programs

In the table below, we have compiled data that enables you to compare the public and not-for-profit colleges and universities in Washington that offer counseling programs in these five main areas: mental health counseling (MH), marriage and family therapy (MF), vocational rehabilitation counseling (VR), school counseling (SC), and substance abuse counseling (SA). Use the table to compare each school by program type offered, Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accreditation status, graduation rate, and net price per year. If you would like more information about becoming a licensed counselor in Washington, have a look at our license requirements page.

School NameCACREP-Accred Program2MHMFVRSCSAGrad Rate1Net Price1
Antioch University-SeattleYesYesYesYesN.Av.N.Av.
Bellevue CollegeYes33%$9,801
Central Washington UniversityYesYes54%$17,645
Centralia CollegeYes44%$9,572
City University of SeattleYesYesYesYesYesN.Av.N.Av.
Clark CollegeYes36%$8,640
Eastern Washington UniversityYesYesYesYes50%$13,650
Edmonds CollegeYesYes35%$9,572
Faith International UniversityYes25%$20,232
Gonzaga UniversityYesYesYesYes85%$35,529
Grays Harbor CollegeYes40%$11,629
Highline CollegeYesYes36%$9,882
Lake Washington Insititute of TechnologyYes43%$10,854
Lower Columbia CollegeYes22%$8,171
Northwest Indian CollegeYes19%$5,250
Northwest UniversityYes58%$23,169
Northwest University-Center for Online and Extended EducationYes41%$22,863
Olympic CollegeYes31%$11,477
Pacific Lutheran UniversityYes69%$23,568
Peninsula CollegeYes51%$5,552
Saint Martin’s UniversityYesYesYes61%$23,964
Seattle Central CollegeYes35%$7,433
Seattle Pacific UniversityYesYesYes66%$26,153
Seattle UniversityYesYesYesYesYes75%$36,671
Skagit Valley CollegeYesYes35%$9,200
Spokane Falls Community CollegeYes33%$8,753
University of Puget SoundYesYesYes74%$28,221
Wenatchee Valley CollegeYes33%$8,226
Western Washington UniversityYesYesYesYes68%$11,388
Whatcom Community CollegeYes34%$9,450
Whitworth UniversityYesYes75%$27,438
Yakima Valley CollegeYes34%$9,475

Top-Ranked Schools with Counseling Programs in Washington

US News & World Report’s Best Online M.Ed. Programs for Student Counseling 2022

  • City University of Seattle (#253-329)
  • Gonzaga University (#253-329)4

Schools in Washington with Counseling Degrees

Traditional Undergraduate Programs

Antioch University-Seattle

Antioch University-Seattle offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Health Counseling and Psychology, comprising 180 quarter credits, that admits new students four times per year. The program has an applied approach that brings together theories from wellness, counseling, and psychology to prepare students for entry-level careers in the mental health field. One unique aspect of the BA program is that it can be completed in combination with one of the school’s master’s degrees in counseling in a compressed timeframe. The 90-quarter-credit MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is accredited by CACREP and has numerous optional concentrations, such as Addiction Counseling. This degree meets state coursework requirements for Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) licensure and may be applied toward substance abuse counseling credentials. The 75-quarter-credit MA in Couple and Family Therapy (CFT) meets state educational requirements to become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in Washington. Additional counseling programs include a Certificate in Addiction Counseling and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Counselor Education and Supervision degree.

Skagit Valley College

Skagit Valley College offers introductory counseling degrees for students with no prior education in the field. The Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Human Services is offered with a Generalist emphasis (93 credits) or a Substance Use Disorder Counseling emphasis (99 credits). This degree takes two years of full-time study to complete with practicums scheduled throughout the program to help students apply classroom learning to real-world situations. Upon completion of the program, graduates can look for employment in entry-level mental health or substance abuse counseling roles, pursue licensing as Substance Use Disorder Professionals (SUDs) in Washington, or transfer to a partnering institution to complete further study. The College also offers a 47-credit Certificate in Substance Use Disorder Counseling that meets state coursework requirements for the SUD credential.

Traditional Graduate Programs

Gonzaga University

Gonzaga University offers prospective counselors three CACREP-accredited counseling degrees. The Master of Arts (MA) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, the MA in Marriage and Family Counseling, and the MA in School Counseling consist of 60 credits each, including a 100-hour practicum, a 600-hour internship, and a final comprehensive exam. Students learn to provide counseling services in diverse settings using multicultural counseling theories. The degrees take at least two years of full-time study to complete with coursework also taken during the summer terms. New students are admitted in the fall and the application process may include an in-person interview with counseling faculty. Graduates will meet the educational requirements in Washington for licensure in their respective practice areas.

Central Washington University

For aspiring mental health counselors, Central Washington University (CWU), located in Ellensburg, offers a CACREP-accredited Master of Science (MS) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling that takes two to two and a half years of full-time study to complete. CWU boasts a commitment to small class sizes in the MS program with approximately 10-20 new students admitted each year. The 90-quarter-credit curriculum is influenced by social justice and diversity theories and professional ethics with a required practicum, internship, and capstone project. Students must also engage in counseling research activities by completing a thesis, participating in approved community research projects, or assisting a faculty member in the counseling department. Graduates of the program will meet Washington’s educational requirements to become Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHCs).

Western Washington University

Western Washington University (WWU) is home to three graduate counseling degrees accredited by CACREP. The Master of Science (MS) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is a two-year, full-time degree with an optional thesis. Students learn about a variety of counseling theories and develop counseling skills and techniques through supervised practicum and internship opportunities. The curriculum includes 91 to 97 quarter credits, such as Adult Psychopathology and Cross-Cultural Counseling. The Master of Education (M.Ed.) in School Counseling is comprised of 90 quarter credits with an optional thesis. The 90-quarter-credit Master of Arts (MA) in Rehabilitation Counseling teaches students how to provide appropriate counseling services to clients with disabilities through a mix of on-campus and distance learning courses. On-campus classes in the rehabilitation counseling degree are delivered at the Everett University Center on the Everett Community College campus. All degrees meet state coursework requirements for licensure in their respective areas.

Online and Hybrid Programs

City University of Seattle

City University of Seattle (City U) offers several online and hybrid programs in various areas of counseling. The Master of Arts in Counseling (MAC) is available through a mix of online and on-campus classes. The degree has three CACREP-accredited track in Clinical Mental Health Counseling; Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling; and Professional School Counseling. Each specialization comprises 93 credits with a shared 35-credit counseling coursework core and admits new students in the fall and spring semesters. Shared courses include Multicultural Counseling; Human Growth and Development; and Counseling Theory. All of these specializations meet state coursework requirements for the Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) license, while the Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling specialization also meets the educational requirements for Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) licensure. Graduates of the Professional School Counseling specialization are eligible to apply for the Educational Staff Associate (ESA) credential to become school counselors in Washington.

Eastern Washington University

Individuals interested in addiction counseling careers will find many program options at Eastern Washington University (EWU). A Graduate Certificate in Addiction Studies is available on-campus or online for those working in related fields or for licensed counseling professionals. EWU also offers several on-campus or online master’s degrees including a 40-credit Master of Arts (MA) in Addiction Studies, a 44-credit MA in Advanced Addiction Therapies, and a 60-credit MA in Behavioral Health, which focuses on addiction, recovery, and counseling treatment. For those just beginning their studies, the Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Addiction Studies is a four-year, on-campus undergraduate degree that introduces students to foundational theories and allows them to develop the skills necessary to become successful addiction counselors. Students complete a senior capstone project and have the option of completing a practicum to gain supervised experience. EWU students can also complete an Undergraduate Certificate in Addiction Studies: Suicide Assessment, Treatment, and Management. All of these addiction counseling programs offered at EWU meet the educational requirements for various substance abuse counseling credentials in Washington. EWU also offers CACREP-accredited, on-campus Master of Science (MS) degrees in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling.

Northwest University

Northwest University is a Christian institution that offers a faith-based 60-credit Master of Arts (MA) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC). Students can choose between taking evening classes on weeknights for 24 months or completing all required coursework online in an asynchronous format that takes 36 months. Online students must attend three on-campus residencies during the program and complete the same supervised work experiences as on-campus students. New students are admitted in the fall term. Both the online and on-campus versions of the degree are designed to meet Washington’s educational requirements for licensure as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC). While the program is not CACREP-accredited, it was designed to align with those standards and is currently in the process of applying for accreditation status.

References:
1. National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, Accredited Programs: https://www.cacrep.org/directory/
3. US News & World Report Best Student Counseling Programs 2022: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-education-schools/student-counseling-rankings
4. US News & World Report Best Online Master’s in Education Programs Offering Student Counseling and Personnel Services 2022: https://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/education/student-counseling-rankings
5. Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education, Directory of COAMFTE Accredited Programs: https://coamfte.org/COAMFTE/Directory_of_Accredited_Programs/MFT_Training_Programs.aspx